A maiden Aviva Premiership Rugby triumph at Franklin’s Gardens over Northampton Saints is only the first step in a period that will define Exeter Chiefs’ season, according to Thomas Waldrom.
The No.8 scored two tries, taking his season tally to six, as the Chiefs held off a second-half fight back from the league leaders to record a 24-18 victory on Friday night.
The result means Rob Baxter’s side are now second in the Aviva Premiership Rugby table with the same record as the Saints, who have scored two more try bonus points.
Yet Exeter will face further tests of their top-four credentials as they host a rampant Wasps side followed by fellow high-flyers Saracens at Sandy Park over the next two weeks.
And Waldrom insists that while victory over Northampton was the ideal preparation, it is the three games as a whole that will prove to be the acid test of Exeter’s campaign.
“Franklin’s Garden is a tough place to go and Saints pride themselves on having a good home record so to take four points, we’re very happy with our performance,” he told the club website.
“It’s been a great start but we need to keep building and I think last week the result just shows you what Rob is doing and he knows how to get us up for these games.
“It’s only going to get tougher and these arm-wrestle games will be important – we need to dig deep and draw from them later in the season.
“We’ve got two more big games in this little block and we’re looking forward to them – they are both at Sandy Park and we’ve got to stamp our authority at home and make it hard for every team to come there.
“We’re going to have to be right on our toes but we’ve had some hard-fought wins and come out on the right side of the ledger so we’ve got to keep doing that.”
Waldrom has made a series of stirring performances since joining the Chiefs over the summer, already equalling his highest try-scoring season in Aviva Premiership Rugby after only seven games.
And the New-Zealand born back row believes his resurgent run of form is down to the attacking philosophy of his new club coupled with a close-knit environment at Sandy Park.
“I think the secret to my try scoring is just enjoying my rugby, having a free licence and going out there and enjoying myself,” he added.
“It’s all coming into place at the moment, it’s a new challenge and it’s one I’m really enjoying.
“We know we’ve got to be right on our game if we want to compete with every team in this league and that’s what we’re doing at the moment.
“We’ve got a small group down in Exeter and we’re enjoying ourselves and everyone is doing the hard yards week-in week-out, which is really fantastic and it’s great to be a part of.”
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